It’s the happy accidents that happen when you decorate that can really have an impact in your home. These spontaneous discoveries can lead to the perfect pairings of disparate objects that somehow fit together like a puzzle with a personal spin.


This was the case for me recently when I placed some files in a wine crate because I had no other spot for them at the time. The fact that they happened to be the right size had never occurred to me before. Now I plan to turn some of my wine crates into storage containers for the folders I access on a regular basis.

Years ago, when my home was featured in a local paper, making some final adjustments for the photo shoot led me to put CDs in a pair of vintage roller skates that became bookends.

It was such a last-minute decision, yet it made the cover of the section.

Lately, I’ve been rethinking an array of trays that came from my mother. Though they’re considered to be such functional finds, these pieces still run the risk of becoming depositories for junk if you’re not careful.

Since my selection includes a variety of sizes, I’ve been working on some ways to make the trays more practical with magazines and more.

Another happy accident occurred with a storage ottoman that provides an extra seat when entertaining. It’s also become the perfect spot to stash the fabulous scrapbooks my mother made for us when our daughter was little.

Since we only take them out on occasion, keeping them tucked away isn’t an issue. Still, whenever we want to remember those special occasions and family vacations we can simply lift the top and go back in time.

In my closet, a spare laundry hamper holds the shopping bags I reuse for the clothing, books and magazines I pass along to friends.

Nearby, an old brass napkin holder on a pedestal that was a fun find from a local flea market elevates my bills to be paid so I can easily see them.

In the kitchen, a rectangular display box I got from a woodworker stores smaller items that can look cluttered on a counter, like a box of tissues, a bowl of sugar and a jar of dog biscuits.  

The same effect can be achieved with a planter box that’s intended for a windowsill. Instead, it can hold anything from rolled-up towels in a bathroom to spare hangers in a laundry room.

When I didn’t want to hang a calendar directly on the wall, I realized it could go on a corkboard that was wired to hang vertically or horizontally.

I also discovered that a vintage dish given to me by a friend was the perfect vessel for some spare coins from other countries that we kept from our travels abroad.

When you find a new purpose for pieces that happen to fit papers and other miscellaneous items, it can be fun to put these objects together in unexpected ways for a look you can call your own.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at



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